photo credit: NASA

The Doomsday Fantasy

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When James Lovelock’s remarks hit the news last week, I watched a familiar pattern unfold. “Enjoy life while you can,” Lovelock told a Guardian reporter, referring to global warming. “Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.” This sort of potent doomsaying packs up really well into a clickable, shareable headline. I watched the story zip around the world in a day via email lists and Facebook walls, powered not by earnest concern for the state of the world but by something sadder—that special schadenfreude that we reserve for the human race as a whole. Let me digress briefly to say that I have a great and enduring respect for Lovelock’s work. He is not only a thought leader but a transformer of thought—someone who has inarguably helped the world to better see and understand its own reality. I also respect his contention

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photo by Trint Williams

Elizabeth Warren’s USPS Proposal: Stacking functions for community resilience

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The internet is abuzz with news of a proposal from the US Postal Service’s Inspector General, thrown into the spotlight by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Under the proposal, the USPS would use its extensive infrastructure to provide banking services in towns and neighborhoods that banks don’t bother with. By providing banking services access to the 68 million Americans who do not have bank accounts, the USPS could in one fell swoop challenge the highly destructive payday loan / check cashing industry, save people a lot of money (Warren states that non-bank-account-holding American households spend an average of $2400 a year, or 10% of their income, on these services alone), and net a badly needed $9 billion / year. A proposal like this provides a good illustration of an ecological principle well known to practitioners of permaculture and regenerative design. In ecological systems, resilience occurs when each element in the system both performs

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The Pixar pitch: How story moves the mind and changes how we see

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It is almost becoming a cliché when discussing regenerative or living systems design that we need to stop seeing the world as discrete objects and start seeing, and working with it as dynamic and moving.  A central focus of the Regenerative Practitioner series is learning how to make that mental shift.  Dynamic systems frameworks are one instrument utilized by Regenesis to that end.  Another powerful instrument is story or narrative. Shifting how we see a project we’re working on from a cluster of objects to a dynamic living process moving through time is a powerful source of insight and creative energy. Shifting our way of seeing is just the first step however.  The next big challenge comes in engaging others in a way that they can see, and be equally energized by, what you are seeing. Daniel Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, describes

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Degenerative Habits of Mind: Changing thinking patterns that block regenerative practices

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You want to integrate regenerative design into your practice. You know, from all you’ve read and heard, that it requires a “different way of thinking,” a new world-view, and you’ve read the lists of attributes for both. So now what? At Regenesis, we’ve spent a lot of time helping people shift the way they think, and we fully appreciate the challenges that involves. The way we think is shaped by patterns that we’ve been taught or picked up over the course of our lives, patterns that are deeply embedded in our culture and institutions. Over time, these patterns have become increasingly interdependent and self-reinforcing and, most problematic, increasingly habitual because they are invisible to us. If we want to change how we think, the first step must be to make visible the patterns that currently shape our thinking. Only then can we decide which are useful when, and which condemn

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Soft Infrastructure for Sandy

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In an era of decreased budgets at every level of government the disasters caused by storms like Super Storm Sandy present us real problems. They also are causing us to be creative and to form unique partnerships. While building hard infrastructure is expensive and time consuming, partnering with nature and allowing the re-establishment of buffering wetlands may be more cost and outcome effective. Our choices may have more to do with habit than rationality. In his November article on the Sustainable Cities Collective website Colin Cafferty discusses the value of buffering wetlands. Filling in wetlands and building close to the water has made us vulnerable to sea level rise and storms. “New York’s wetlands … are actually a key difference for the protection of the city’s citizens against future flooding disasters. Wetlands provide natural flood control by temporarily holding and absorbing floodwater, reducing the energy of storm surges and helping to control

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Putting Regeneration to Work: the how of regenerative development

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There’s a lot of buzz about regeneration in the design, building and planning world these days. A special issue of the prestigious Building Research and Information journal (Regenerative Design and Development) is adding to that buzz, along with the 2013 Living Future unConference (Resilience & Regeneration). But in all that’s being written, talked about and presented, there’s a lot about the what of regeneration, but very little about the how. For working practitioners interested in the how, finding comprehensive, integrated learning opportunities designed to fit their work constraints is a major challenge. To address this growing void, Regenesis is launching a regenerative learning community for people who are passionate about pioneering the evolution of how we create and inhabit our built environment. The first offering is an invitational, hands-on, live distance-learning series—The Regenerative PractitionerTM. Ready to go beyond just talking about regeneration to putting it to work? You can find

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Welcome (back) to Edge::Regenerate

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New beginnings are such hopeful times, filled with the belief that somehow all those behaviors that defined the past have been transformed or, at minimum, will slink off into the shadows and leave space for the better self we promise to be.  So, with all the requisite hopes, this post marks a new beginning for Edge::Regenerate. Our first run lasted 12 months, and we came away with a healthy respect for the discipline required to post fresh new thinking week after week. Why the new beginning now? Edge::Regenerate is taking on new purpose with the new initiative we’ve just launched at Regenesis. We’re stepping into the distance-learning world–our first offering an invitational series titled The Regenerative PractitionerTM, with the ultimate aim of growing a regenerative learning community. We’ll be writing more about that soon.  In the meantime, our original welcome seems still relevant so we’ve re-posted it below. Welcome to Edge : : Regenerate.

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What is a regenerative development—really?

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The idea of regeneration has clearly caught hold in the building and community development world. It’s starting to show up everywhere. But how can we tell whether a project is or will be regenerative? In embracing the term, are we in danger of demeaning its power if we don’t fully understand it?  Is it just green building at its best—carbon neutrality; 100% renewable energy, all recycled materials? Or is it more, and if so what? At Regenesis, we see it as not just “more”, but actually a different order of working, one that strives for a different order of effect.  For example, a regenerative project, or community must, at minimum, manifest all four of these qualitative attributes. Inspirational — Regenerative projects inspire because they play meaningful, contributing roles within the larger human and natural communities in which they’re embedded.  Equally important, they  provide meaningful roles, creating opportunities for all participants

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Sustainability Re-examined

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Most people believe that sustaining the planet is a good idea, given the impacts that human civilization is having. Business has played a big role in creating those impacts, and has been playing a big role in trying to address them. The problem is that sustainability only looks at half of what needs to be taken into account when thinking about whole living systems. Sustainability primarily addresses reducing impacts and increasing efficiencies. Corporate sustainability programs are wrapped almost entirely around these goals. But every experienced businessperson knows you can’t make a healthy business by only reducing inefficiencies. The experience of running a successful business teaches that it’s the ability of a business to generate value that is the real source of its vitality and viability. You can only make a healthy business by figuring out what you want to grow, how to grow it effectively, and then defining inefficiency as

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The Regenerative Community

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Via Pamela, here is an interesting post over at Lynda Gratton’s Future of Work blog about the power of community. Gratton points to three networks and communities that she believes we all as individuals will need to tap into and be sourced from in the future. Gratton’s post reminds me of a frequent conversation that surfaces over here at Regenesis–namely, what it is that organizes or bounds a community. Virtual communities may organize themselves by an idea, a trend, or an exchange of services. In other words, virtual communties are driven and bounded by human forces. Physical human communities, however, are organized by something much larger than just human drives and desires. They are shaped and influenced by the forces, resources, and limitations of an evolving place. As physical human communities work to become regenerative communities, then, they must work to integrate the drivers of human progress with the forces

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